Translation Chandimangal

About this text

Introductory notes

The Chandimangal is a mangal kavya, or a narrative poem which tells the tales of deities who establish their cult among human beings. This popular genre in Bengali, influenced by regional cults such as that of Chandi, Manasa, Dharma, or Vaishnav songs, flourished from the thirteenth century to the eighteenth. However, mangal kavya poems appear to have been written until the start of the nineteenth century. The poems are typically written in the form of songs (panchalika) meant for performance by professional singers (mangal gayak) backed by a male chorus (dohar) during ritual worship of the particular deity who was the subject of the poem. The Chandimangal of Mukandaram Chakravarti was composed in the latter half of the sixteenth century in West Bengal, India. There are numerous manuscripts of this work in West Bengal, Bangladesh, and Assam, as well as early printed editions from the nineteenth century onwards. The most frequently used edition is Sukumar Sen’s which was based on a manuscript dated 1700, discovered by the editor. In this version, the text is divided into 14 palas, whose performance began on a Tuesday from noon to dusk, and continued from late evening till midnight. The performances lasted for a week, ending on the following Tuesday with the ashthamangal. The poem’s performative origins are evident in its rhyming verse, use of repetition, directions for using specific rhythms, musical modes, and dance forms.

The focus of Mukundaram’s poem is on his difficult times, human beings, seasons, and daily detail, rather than merely establishing the cult of the titular goddess. These broader themes and mundane socio-economic concerns are represented in our selections below. We have provided our own English translation which renders the text in prose as closely as possible.

Selection details

The focus of Mukundaram’s poem is on his difficult times, human beings, seasons, and daily detail, rather than merely establishing the cult of the titular goddess. These broader themes and mundane socio-economic concerns are represented in our selections below. We have provided our own English translation which renders the text in prose as closely as possible.


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Summary: Nidaya describes the physical suffering that she suffers on account of her pregnancy. Sis losing strenth, and cannot eat or drink anything. She experiences nausea and cannot swallow. The weight of her belly frightens her, and for ten days she feels neither hunger nor thirst. However, should she get the foods she desires she would eat hungrily. She asks Dharmaketu to get her the following items of food: burnt fish flavoured with the juice of lime (jamir); winnowed puffed rice, with curd made from buffalo milk; sour fruits, like the jujube sweetened and diluted curd ripe elephant apple cooked in a stew dried mango three kinds of bitter leaves, eaten usually at the beginning of a meal catfish fried with chillies in sharp smelling oil rice porridge tempered with turmeric ripe fruit of the sugar palm tree roasted lizards and mongooses with lots of salt fried ducks eggs / balikoda/? is meaningless; an alternative reading is "rai khada", mustard leaves and shoots. fried shrimps a porcupine roasted on a spit radishes, brinjals and beans cooked with bitter neem leaves and figs. On account of his wife's pregnancy, Dharmaketu goes home having procured all the necessities. He cooks them all himself, and feeds Nidaya to her heart's desire. This is composed by Shri Kabikankan. Note: This is from the description of last weeks of Nidaya's pregnancy and the physiological changes she experiences. In this section we find a description of the loss of appetite that she suffers and the strange foods that she desires. Her loving husband Dharmaketu procures them all and cooks them for her himself. In doing so he is observing the ceremony of saadh, in which the women of the house cook for the expectant mother the dishes that she desires. Dharmaketu is a hunter (vyadha), and the list of foods is interesting for two reasons. First, it contains items of food that particularly mark the marginal nature of the hunters' community: being forest dwellers, they depend on the resources of the forest and consume foods that would not figure in the diet of merchant community. Secondly, Nidaya's longing for heightened sensations of taste are thought to be to be appropriate to a woman in the last stages of pregnancy. The listed foods span the range of culinary flavours, bitter, sour, salt, hot and sweet, they appear here jumbled up and without the order ofa proper meal.

Summary: Having bid his father-in-law farewell, the warrior returns home with Phullara. Nidaya welcomes them with grass and unhusked rice. In the wedding-canopy, drums are beaten; the weeing guests bring gifts. They are fed and cared for five days, after which they affectionately take their leave. Dharmaketu is pleased on seeing his son's bravery. Nidaya is delighted with Phullara, and in that she is skilled in house-work; she brought praise and renown to the family. They eat whatever they have, giving no thought to saving for the next day. Three arrows and a bow: that is all that they have to keep as surety for a loan. Kalketu hunts every morning, hunting the deer, and Dharmaketu is satisfied. Phullara goes to the market to sell the venison procured by her husband, while Nidaya rests at home. She sells the meat as directed by her mother-in-law, and buys vegetables, oil and salt. She reports the news of the market to Nidaya. She cooks and feeds Dharmaketu and Kalketu and after the meal gives them thickened milk, curd and honey.Nidaya feels that her life has been fulfilled. The hunter (Dharmaketu) lot is a happy one; he is a devotee of Shiva, and member of the Kola tribe. He consorts day and night with holy men, meditates on Shiva and hears the tales of the Destroyer. With his wife (jaya: chhaya in the text is meaningless) he decides to retire to the holy city of Varanasi. The young couple cry uncontrollably, but then send money for their upkeep every month. Note: Kalketu returns with his bride Phullara, the couple live happily with Dharmaketu and Nidaya. This section describes the behaviour of the young couple, particularly Phullara's obedience towards her parents in law. They are poor, and save nothing: “three arrows and a bow” are all that they possess. But Phullara observes proper decorum in her house-work, makes no demands, and takes care of her parents-in-law.She sells the meat in the village market, indicating a division of labour between the men who hunt and the women who sell. The inability to hunt or the non-availability of prey disrupts this system.

Summary: Phullara, the hunter’s wife, anxiously awaits the return of Kalketu and asks her neighbour for news. When she sees her husband in the distance, she realizes that he is bare-handed and has not been able to hunt any food. She strikes her forehead in sorrow and bewails her fate. Even while married, she is without support; her destiny is unbearable, she has a poor husband, and she has fallen into the trap of worrying about the means of sustenance. There is neither food nor clothing in her household, but she had been married with pomp and given gifts of turmeric, sandalwood, incense, vermilion, musk and betel-nut. The beautiful girl sadly speaks this and it is sung in tercet(tripadi) or by KabikankanShri MukundaChakrabarti. Note: Kalketu hunts the beasts and wreaks havoc among them. The goddess Abhaya taking pity on their plight disguises herself as a golden monitor lizard and eludes the hunter. But Kalketu captures the lizard and brings it back. When Phullara cries thinking that stale meat will not sell in the market, Kalketu asks her to skin the lizard and cook it. The description of Kalketu and Phullara’s poverty is shown to be the general condition of the hunter community (whose sole possessions are “three arrows and a bow”).

Summary: Phullara says that stale meat does not sell; O warrior, tell me what to do. Go to the house of your friend Bimala’s mother with a gift of a porcupine (seaDi, sajaru in other text). Borrow some broken rice and cook gruel with care. Cook a few vessels full of greens, borrow some money for salt. Give your friend the responsibility for the rice; I will sell your wares in the market today. I have tied the monitor lizard with net and rope; skin it and burn it on a spit. She goes to her friend’s house and is received cordially: how long have I not seen you, she says. Phullara replies that she is poor and all day she has to think of where her next meal will come from. Her friend applies oil to her hair and vermilion to her forehead, and fills her lap (anchal) with puffed rice. Sitting a wooden stool, Phullara requests the loan of two measures of rice; her friend assures her that she will give it to her the next day. Sitwowth me my friend and take this comb; see whether there are lice in my hair. The two friends are lost in conversation: we shall hear some songs about the goddess, let our minds be lost in her feet. Shri Kabikankan sings this sweet song. Note: The monitor lizard is the goddess in disguise. As Kalketu, having been deprived of his prey, seeks to kill the lizard and eat it, he has to ask Phullara to borrow the other requirements of the meal from neighbours. The food is basic in the extreme, but its quantity is befitting the appetite of the hunter. We also note that Phullara is greeted in her friend’s house with a gift of food.

Summary: Phullara describes to Chandi how the year passes for her. She begins with Baishakh, the first month of the year (beginning roughly in the middle of April). There is drought everywhere in Baishakh; there are no trees for me to sit under and sell my wares. My feet burn, and the cloth that I wear is not big enough to cover my head. It is a deadly month, for people do not eat meat in this month. In Jyaistha , the sun is unbearable, my clothing made of jute tears into bits. I cannot even leave the meat to drink some water, for if I do, kites steal half of it. We survive only on wild berries. In Ashadh, the skies are full of rain clouds: even the wealthy are without resources. I wander with my basket of meat from door to door. I get only a few crumbs, but my stomach remains empty. Many eat insects that even snakes refuse. In Shraban, day and night seem the same, the waters pour down from the skies and inundate the earth. At such a time for our sins we have to hunt the deer; even when if there is a shower our house is flooded.In Bhadra, the clouds are frightening: the rivers are flooded and all on sides there is water. I have to go from house to house with my basket of meat. My husband is helpless and the gods adverse. In Ashwin, the goddess Ambika is worshipped in every household. Goats, buffaloes and sheep are offered to her: the women dress in fine attire. The wretched Phullara has to think of where her meals will come. No one desires my meat as there is enough in every home. When Kartik comes, the chill starts being felt and fate decrees that everyone should wear warm clothes. Only the wretched Phullara has to wear the skin of deer. The knee, the sun and fire – these three are protection against the cold. Maisor (Margashirsha) is the lord of the months; in every granary and store there is ample grain. But if fate allows us to fill our bellies, it also decrees deathly cold. I wrap my old cloth over my body. In Poush, there is intense cold, but people are happy, covering themselves with warm clothes. She can only exchange her deerskin for coarse jute. The dust flies everywhere and covers my body, I can’t open my eyes when I lie down. In terrible Magha, there are storms; the deer hide themselves in the dark and the hunter cannot find them. Phullara has to face the brunt of it all: greens can’t be gathered in this month. Everybody fasts or eat vegetables. In Phalgun, the cold multiplies: there is also drought. For a few crumbs, you have to pledge your earthen vessels. Phullara has nothing apart from earthen plates! Look, this is the hole in the ground from which we eat our gruel. In Madhumasa, the wind blows gently, and the bees drink honey from the flowers. Men and women (enjoy the stings of desire, but Phullara’s body smarts from) the sting of penury: (Line missing here?) I sleep with my husband but it seems that we are miles apart. Parvati on hearing Phullara’s words tells her that from this day she will have a share in the goddess’s wealth. Thus sings Shri Kabikankan. Note: This long and detailed description is an example of Baramasya (twelvemonth), a description of the activities of individuals in the different months of the year. They are often spoken by young women, describing their sorrows and tribulations, as well as their hopes and desires. In Phullara’s case it is a description of the abject poverty of of the marginal Kola community.

Summary: This is a description of the storms which are unleashed on Kalinga at Chandi;s request. Indra, sorrowing for his son Nilambar, is told by Chandi that she will bring his son back if Indra lends his clouds to her. Indra agrees and to give her the clouds to shower their waters on Kalinga. He remembers how his sacrifica at Gokul, the land of King Nanda, was washed away by waters; and he exhorts the deities of water, rain and clouds to turn their combined forces on Kalinga. They are now to take the war-elephants Pundarik, Airabat, Kumud and Baman and inundate Kalinga with destructive floods. The storm that is envisaged is like the final dissolution of the universe (pralaya). Grandson of Jagannath Mishra, son of Hriday Mishra and brother of the moon among poets (kabichandra), Shri Kabikankan composed this at the behest of Chandi.

Summary: In an instant the skies are covered with clouds and a violent thunderstorm with torrents of rain are unleashed upon Kalinga. The residents are terrified and bewail their fate. The dust covers everything, houses collapse to the ground. The clouds, aided by the eight war-elephants pour streams of water on the world. Nobody can hear anybody else in the din: there is no difference between the water and the land, the day and the night. The snakes leave their holes and swim in the water. For seven days it rains incessantly, The crops are utterly destroyed, hail falls like the ripe palm-fruits in the month of Bhadra. Huge waves inundate the land, and at Chandi's behest the valiant Hanuman destroys the temples and places of refuge. Thus Shri Kabikankan sings the praise of Abhaya.

Summary: Chandi orders all the rivers to haste to Kalinga. The list given includes both local waterways and the great rivers of the country, celebrated in myth and legend. They are summoned from their dwelling places in the heavens and the underworld, as well as from their local habitations in rural Bengal. Among the rivers which are mentioned in this list are Ganga, Jamuna, Mandakini, Chandrabhaga, Damodar, Godavari, Saraju, Gomati and Mahanadi, all major rivers of the country: with them are present also the streams, canals and rivers that form the basis of the riverine economy of Bengal. Among them are Darukeshwar, Silai, Kubai, Dabai, Ajay, Kangsabati, Tarajuli, Manteshwar, and the Bagati canal. Pleased seeing all the rivers Abhaya ascends her lion: Dvijabar Mukunda describes it in his pachali set to the Lalit metre.

Summary: Seeing his horses and elephants washed away by the flood, the king of Kalinga is in the throes of despair. Water enters the palace, the women take refuge on the upper floors, the fuirniture floats on the waters. Seeing the condition of the flood, the king of Kalinga prepares a boat and ascends it with his family, having first prepared a sacrifice to the boat. The wise men(dvija, lit. twice-born) tell him that some deity is angry with him for some fault of his. Hearing this, the king prepares an oblation to the waters. The rivers are given their due honours: the king is more calm now and showers gifts on the wise men. Shri Kabikankan composes this verse in a triple measure

Summary: The people [of Kalinga] weep in distress, and tears pour from both eyes, Bulan Mandal says: 'Listen, brothers, the crops in the marshy land have all been destroyed: but that does not distress me. The king has surveyed the land: he will demand the full amount of revenue owed to him on the first day of Agrahayan. Some say, 'I hid my money in the roof of my house and it has been washed away'. A leader of the community says, ' The flood has washed away my entire cotton crop'. Bhandu Datta says, ' As a result of my sins, water flooded my courtyard: I d not know how to swim and I nearly drowned. My wife saved me by catching hold of my hair!' Bulan Mandal departs for the city of the valiant hero. Thus sings the poet Mukunda.

Summary: [The hunter addresses Bulan Mandal]. ' Listen of brother Bulajm Mandal, come and live in my city. I will take away your distress and adorn you with gold earrings. Live in my city, and cultivate as much land as you need, and you are exempted from taxes for seven years. [[I will pay you?]] a silver coin for every plough. live without fear. Display my flag on your wall, and pay me only when you are settled. No tax collectors will be appointed, no levies are to be imposed on vehicles, no special taxes at the times of festivals or on salt or on harvests. Sell all your produce freely, I will not take anything from it. Brahmins will be honoured in my city, they will not be taxed, instead I will give them arable land. I will serve them and please my court. At this moment Bhandu Datta arrives and sweetly asks: 'Who is that receives honours before me?' Resident of the city of Daminya, versed in music, Shri Kabikankan sings this song.

Summary: In the beautiful city of Ujani King Vikramkeshari worships the ten-armed goddess with due ceremony. He rules his subjects like King Rama: like Karna in generosity, Yudisthira in speech and Shukdeb in wisdom he pleases Goddess Mangala. The city is fortified and surrounded by bamboo poles. The king's men could not reach the limits of the kingdom even if they wander about for a month. The stone fortress is high and embellished with ornaments and gems. The women and men are heavenly in their beauty, and their elegant clothes make even the god of love jealous. The great archer Vikramkeshari has a community of merchants in his kingdom, and by his command a merchant named Dhanapati settles in the city. The king is pleased with him. The merchant's son is fond of flying pigeons with the children of the place: so sings Shri Kabikankan.

Summary: With the God Shiva in mind he purifies himself. Lahana serves him food on a golden platter. Dubala puts clarified butter (ghee) in a golden bowl. Remembering the God Jagannath, the honest merchant (sadhu, lit. good person, used for holy men) cleanses himself with water from the sacred river. First he is served a bitter dish of vegetables followed by other preparations. The honest merchant praises the skill in cooking. He eats fish, meat and lentil cakes soaked in ghee, innumerable fried fish. This is followed by curd and pancakes washed down with vessels of water. The artful maid casts coy glances at the merchant and steals his heart. He rinses, eats camphor scented betel leaves, and retires in the room of pleasure. After finishing her housework, Lahana joins her husband there. The merchant in an amorous mood catches hold of her clothes, and strikes her heart with arrows of love. But Lahana feigns anger and complains to him. Shri Kabikankan sings the praises of Abhaya.

Summary: The ceremonial purification ceremony is performed in the auspicious month of Phalgun. The merchant is very happy and speaks courteously to all. He makes all arrangements and people run to and fro to obey. Pandit Janardan, the matchmaker goes to the town of Ichhani bearing the presents, accompanied by a host of eminent persons. Auspicious songs are sung. They bear oil, vermilion, betel, areca nuts, bowls of perfumes and pomegranates. They also carry puffed rice, curd, ghee, sweets and coconuts; rice, pulses, and pairs of goats; mustard seeds, clay pots, spools of thread and coloured cowrie shells; bananas of different kinds, cowrie shells as gifts, cloth coloured with turmeric, ox-gall, conch-shells, fans made of yak hair, sandalwood paste, garlands of flowers, black eye-salve and a mirror. The learned men, with smeared foreheads sit on embroidered blankets. The guests sit under a canopy, the atmosphere redolent with incense. Grandson of Jagannath Mishra, son of Hriday Mishra and brother of the moon among poets (kabichandra), Shri Kabikankan composed this at the behest of Chandi.

Summary: Lahana addresses Dhanapati in this verse. O Dhanapati, you go to Gauda leaving Khullana in my care. In obedience to the words of the merchant I care for Khullana for a full year as a mother cares for her child. The latter neither cooks or does housework; I myself comb her hair with amloki (myrobalan). I bathe her with turmeric and saffron, and dress her in jewels and ornaments. At lunchtime, I feed Khullana rice from a golden plate with six kinds of sauces, urging her lovingly to eat. I feed her fish curry and put her to sleep in my lap; I give her her betel and areca nuts. Thickened milk, bananas and curd are given as gifts. We live happily in one place, and Khullana does not think of her father or brother. She does not wish to return to her father's house. Khullana spends money without thinking, and does not fear anyone. I do the house work myself (with the help of?) the maid Dubala. I wake her to feed her: O lord of my life, says Lahana, I am only in awe of you.

Summary: Dubala presents an exaggerated account of her spending in the market to Dhanapati. Dubala says: "I shall give you an account of every item that I have bought, your Dubala is no thief. I don't know how to write, so I'll tell you everything from heart. As I entered the market, I met Hari the geat astrologer, who calculated my horoscope, which is in the constellation of Pisces. I gave him a present of a kahan (the prices are calculated in karis, pans and kahans, where 16 pans make a kahan and eighty karis make a pan). Then Kusai Ojha, a load of kisha grass on his shoulder, came and blessed me having recited verses from the Vedas. For your good name, I gave him an offering of 10 pans. Then I bought five tolas of camphor - I wasn't able to find any at first - at five kahans a tola, making it twenty five kahans in all. I took four kahans worth of bananas, vegetables worth four kahans and eight pans, and oil, ghee, salt and cottage cheese worth five kahans. I bought this goat for eight kahans. I paid the royal priest ten pans on your behalf, the itinerant beggars and holy men some alms. I ate food worth four pans". Dubala is scared, and the merchant says: "This cannot be!" But Dubala insists strongly that she is telling the truth and says that the merchant can cut her nose off if she is proved false. So wrote Shi Kabikankan.

[Page 162]

Dhanapati goes to his bedroom with sandals on his feet. He eats camphor-scented betel leaves, and decorates himself with a red powder and sandalwood paste. Khullana is still in the kitchen. In the meantime, the barren woman (i.e. Lahana) comes to talk to her husband. He takes her to bed. This is why Chandi takes his life. Dubala calls Lahana to come and eat. Lahana scolds her loudly. She complains about Khullana taking betel leaves and areca nuts to the kitchen and not paying any heed to her. She did not even ask Lahana’s opinion. Now she is going to deprive Lahana of her food. Lahana is living by eating stale, watered rice for days on end. Dhanapati is the eldest in the house. Everything is his, so he should not be afraid of anyone. Lahana has quite a few grievances. She being the elder wife, should receive respect, but gets none. Khullana remains behind the doors, and listens to all that Lahana and Dubala have to say. She came and touched the feet of her elder. Thus their quarrel ended and they ate together. When one person tolerates it, the quarrel goes away. Chakrabarty knows this.

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[Khullana complains to Dhanapati.] “In the month of Jyaistha, the moment you left, Khullana’s co-wife (i.e. Lahana) became terrible. Then comes a letter from you ordering me to act as a goatherd. I feel stupefied. I plead with Lahana but Lahana catches me by the hair and kicks and punches me. I want to let you know all of this and go home to my parents. In the month of Asadha, rain clouds gather and peacocks dance, and frogs croak everywhere. I lament my fate. There is no place to graze the goats. In Shravana, it rains day and night, the moon is clouded over. I keep the goats dry by holding leaves above them in the woods. I am alone and have no one to tell my sorrows to. The goats graze besides the ponds, they are mischievous and do not stay in their coops. In the month of Bhadra, there are storms and rains. Land and water become one. Only the bank of the lake is dryer, and the goats take refuge there. The rain falls like spears. Lahana gives me oil (to put on her hair) only once every three days. In the month of Ashwin, it is heard that the merchant is returning home. Hearing this, I observe a penance in honour of the Goddess. But unfortunately the merchant does not come. Lahana decks herself up in ornaments, but my hair becomes rough and matted. In the month of Kartik, winter arrives. All the world takes up warm clothes. After six months, my jute cloth has fallen to pieces. Lahana has given her a cloth. Knees, the sun and fire is all that she has against the cold. In the month of Margashirsha, everyone’s house is full of rice. Though bellies are full, there is also bitter cold. I sleep in the goat-keep. I have no clothes to wear, only jute sacks. In the month of Poush, people wear warm garments. Fate gives everyone warm clothes. Lahana gives me an old sack to wear. As I put it on, I am covered with dust from the old sack. In the month of Magh, it remains foggy all the time. The goats run away in search of grass, and do not come back. A fox kills and eats a she-goat, and I am mortified. I plead with Lahana, but Lahana catches her by my hair, and punches and kicks me. In the month of Phalgun it is still very cold. My old sack has fallen to pieces. I gather fallen wood from the jungle, and spend my evenings in front of a makeshift fire. I have to sleep in the husking room where I cannot sleep due to ants biting me. In the month of Chaitra, the swallow asks the clouds for water, and bees taste honey from lotus flowers. Men and women become amorous in mood, but I think only about the hunger in my belly. Such is my fate that my husband is not at home. In the month of Baishakh, finally my fate turns fortunate due to the goddess Chandi’s good grace. On hearing about the arrival of Dhanapati, Lahana starts to take a little care of me for a few days. Now I do not have to herd goats anymore.” As Khullana speaks of her troubles, Lahana stands behind the door and eavesdrops. Mukunda the poet sings the twelvemonth song.

[Page 190]

She [Khullana] cooked fifty dishes in all. Dubala reports to the merchant. All the friends and family sit down to eat together. Khullana serves them in platters of gold. Lahana, smiling, serves them ghee in a gold pot. Everyone praises the cooking. The smells of the cooking fill the merchant’s house. Hearing the praise of the cooking, Lahana weeps. After eating so much, the guests become embarrassed. After eating, they take camphor-scented betel leaves. The ascetics are given certain honours, like necklaces and expensive cloths, and horses, and gold vessels. After pleasing his friends and family, the merchant goes the next morning to see the king. He takes with him, curds, bananas, sugar candy, areca nuts, betel leaves, ghee and other things like coconuts, and holy water from the Ganges. All these he sends as tribute and bows down before the king. The minstrel sings about the greatness of the month Jyaistha. Making an offering of sandalwood paste in the month of Jyaistha is supposed to be a deed of great merit. On hearing this, the king calls his treasurer and asks him to bring the sandalwood into the court, which he does. ShriKabikankan sings this verse.

[Page 202]

Clouds gather in the north-east. In a moment, clouds cover the entire sky and it starts to rain torrentially. The river Magara overflows its banks, and land and water are one. Hailstones as big as the palm fruit fall on the roof. Lightning cracks and thunder follows. Day and night become the same. On the order of Chandi, Hanuman appears and breaks apart the covering of the boats. He takes two boats and smashes them together. Chandi laughs at this. ShriKabikankan sings about the goddess Abhaya.

[Page 202]

On the order of Chandi, all rivers come to mingle their waters with that of the river Magara. Among the rivers mentioned are most major rivers of northern India as well as most major rivers of Bengal, like Mandakini, Bhogabati, Ganga, Karmanasha, Bipasha, Damodar, Darukeshwar, Shilai, Chandrabhaga, Tarajuli, Godavari, Manteshwar, Varuna, Jamuna, Ajay, Saraswati, Gomati, Kansabati, Suvarnarekha, and Brahmaputra. Abhaya smiles sitting on her lion. Mukunda sings about it in verse.

[Page 203]

Dhanapati appeals to the boatman to anchor the boat wherever he may find land. It is raining torrentially, with lightning and thunder to match. The boats are turning like the potter’s wheel, and there is water in the boat. Hailstones fall on the head, and the helmsman is unable to steer. Trees are uprooted by the storm. Crocodiles and snakes can be seen swimming alongside the boats. All the men are shivering with wet and cold. Sensing the end of his life, Dhanapati invokes the god Shiva and weeps aloud. Chandika waits and listens to this, sings ShriKabikankan.

[Page 203]

Chandi says to Padma or Manasa, that she regrets calling all the rivers to sink Dhanapati’s boat. If the boat sinks, then Shiva will hold her responsible. She is a little scared of Shiva’s devotees, especially Dhanapati. If harm comes to him, then Shiva might not even look at her face anymore. Worried, Chandi lets the rivers and the clouds leave, and bids Hanuman take up his place in the temple once more. She allows Dhanapati to steer his way to Patan safely, sings ShriKabikankan.

[Page 230]

Vishwakarma and his son Darubrahma, at Chandika’s behest, make seven boats for Dhanapati in one night. Hanuman splits tree trunks for them using only his nails. The boats named are Madhukar, Guyarekhi, Ranajaya, Ranabheema, Sarbadhara, and Natshala. Hanuman brings the boats to the river Bhramara. As the night ends, the gods vanish, sings ShriKabikankan.

[Page 231]

This is a description of Shripati’s goods that he expects to barter. He expects to get horses for deer, conch shells for coconuts, medicinal plants for cloves, elephants for deer, parrots for pigeons, areca nuts for myrobalan, cinnabar for vermilion, coral for red fruit, yak tails for jute, sapphires for blue glass, camphor for sugar, pearls for shells, and horses for sheep. Kabikankan sings the praises for the king Raghuram of the Paladhi dynasty and prays that may Chandi fulfil all his wishes.

[Page 231]

Choosing a good moment, Shripati goes to pay his respects to the king. He takes as gifts, curd, bananas, areca nuts, betel leaves, ghee etc. Servants dress up the palanquin in which he travels, and his boatmen and guards surround him. They fan him with fans made from white yaks’ tails, while on his left and right, trumpets and drums sound, and flags are waved. Thus he comes to the court, bows to the king and sets down his gifts all around, sings ShriKabikankan.

[Page 253]

He takes loads of coconut, pitchers full of sugar, sweetmeat, and holy water from the river Ganga. He takes pair upon pair of goats and sheep and horses. He takes as gifts, curd, bananas, areca nuts, betel leaves, ghee etc. Servants dress up the palanquin in which he travels, and his boatmen and guards surround him. His palanquin is decorated with gold, and the shade on top is made of fine jute. Pearls and peacock-plumes hang from it. They fan him with fans made from white yaks’ tails, on his left and right. Thus he comes to the court, bows to the king and sets down his gifts all around. The king asks who he is, sings ShriKabikankan.

[Page 253]

Shripati tells the king of his own king, Vikramkeshari in the land of Gauda, who has sent seven boats full of goods for trade. His coffers have run out of yaks’ tail fans, sandalwood, and conch shells. So on orders of the king, Shripati is here to replenish the royal coffers. He is from the Gandhabanik caste, lives in Ujani, and born of the Datta family. His king is a powerful and benevolent king, a devotee of Lord Krishna who always listens to the Puranas being recited, and gives gifts to brahmins. After listening to the praises of the king of Gauda, the king of Simhala asks about the goods for trade. Mukunda sings this in verse.

[Page 254]

Shripati gives the king a list of all the goods he has brought and what he expects to trade for each. He expects to get horses for deer, conch shells for coconuts, medicinal plants for cloves, elephants for deer, parrots for pigeons, areca nuts for myrobalan, cinnabar for vermilion, coral for red fruit, yak tails for jute, sapphires for blue glass. ShriKabikankan sings the praises for the king Raghuram of the Paladhi dynasty and prays that Chandi fulfils all his wishes.

[Page 292]

[Susheela entreats Shripati to stay with her.] “The month of Baishakh is a terrible time. The sun is too harsh. I will give you sandalwood oil, and cool water, and cloth for wiping your body scented with musk. Baishakh is a good month for giving gifts to brahmins. In the month of Jyaistha, the sun is harsher than before. Treat yourself with cool sandalwood paste and fans made form yaks’ tails. Stay with me in the inner house and do not go off sailing. We will partake of sweet mango juice. In the month of Asadha, clouds roar, peacocks dance and frogs croak. Stay with me in the house and do not go back to your city. Eat Shali rice and honey and sugar candy all you like. The month of Shravan is a difficult time. One wishes to have a little sun on the skin. It is rainy and windy all the time. Stay with me in the inner house and do not go off sailing. I will please you any way you want. In the month of Bhadra, it still rains. Land and water become one, there is water everywhere. I will put up a jute mosquito net to keep out mosquitoes and other insects, and fan you with yaks’ tail fans like a companion. Stay in the house and do not wish for trade anymore. In the month of Ashwin, let us worship the goddess Ambika with all the necessary religious articles, and goat, sheep and buffaloes for sacrifice. No matter how much you want to give as gifts, I will provide you with all of it. I will speak to the king and have you mother brought here. In the month of Kartik the rains cease, and it grows colder day by day. I will bring out the quilts and blankets, and I will ask my father to give you half his kingdom. It is good to give gifts to brahmins in Kartik. In the month of Agrahayan, everyone has their houses full of paddy, rice and mustard. It is indeed an unfortunate man who does not have land to till. In the month of Poush, a man is entertained by quilts, oil, betel leaves, the sun, women and tussar clothes. There will be fish and meat, honey and radishes to eat. It will keep you so happy that Ujani will be as bitter as neem leaves to you. In the month of Magh, you will listen to the Puranas being recited while you give gifts after taking a bath in the morning. You will eat your fill of sweetmeats. I will bring you your food in the evening. In the month of Phalgun, my garden will be full of flowers and I will have a swing built there. We will spend the time swinging on it, and listening to tales about Lord Krishna. In the month of Chaitra or Madhu, a fair breeze will blow from the south. Honey bees will flit from flower to flower. We will scatter flowers of the bed and sleep on it.” On hearing Susheela speak sweetly thus, Shreepati lowers his head and answers that all his pleasures are at the goddess’s feet. Thus sings ShriKabikankan.

This text is an English-language translation of the original version:

This is a selection from the original text


alms, diet, food, penury, taste

Source text

Title: Chandimangal

Author: Kabikankan Mukunda

Editor(s): Sukumar Sen

Publisher: Sahitya Akademi

Publication date: 2013

Original compiled 1700

Edition: 6th edition

Place of publication: New Delhi

Provenance/location: Original compiled 1700

Digital edition

Original author(s): Kabikankan Mukunda

Original editor(s): Sukumar Sen

Language: English

Selection used:

  • 1 ) page 39
  • 2 ) page 44
  • 3 ) page 54
  • 4 ) page 55
  • 5 ) pages 61 to 62
  • 6 ) pages 74 to 77
  • 7 ) pages 112 to 113
  • 8 ) page 121
  • 9 ) pages 156 to 161
  • 10 ) pages 167 to 168
  • 11 ) pages 190 to 191
  • 12 ) pages 202 to 204
  • 13 ) pages 230 to 231
  • 14 ) pages 253 to 254


Texts collected by: Ayesha Mukherjee, Amlan Das Gupta, Azarmi Dukht Safavi

Texts transcribed by: Muhammad Irshad Alam, Bonisha Bhattacharya, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Muhammad Ehteshamuddin, Kahkashan Khalil, Sarbajit Mitra

Texts encoded by: Bonisha Bhattacharya, Shreya Bose, Lucy Corley, Kinshuk Das, Bedbyas Datta, Arshdeep Singh Brar, Sarbajit Mitra, Josh Monk, Reesoom Pal

Encoding checking by: Hannah Petrie, Gary Stringer, Charlotte Tupman

Genre: India > poetry

For more information about the project, contact Dr Ayesha Mukherjee at the University of Exeter.